High Resolution Isotope Laboratory


Security Lab



6th Avenue, Kipling Blvd
Building 20
Denver, CO 80225
United States

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Description of Capability: Measurement of high precision traditional and non-traditional isotope ratios in solids, solution and by laser ablation.

Specifications/Capabilities: The laboratory currently contains two Nu Instruments HR multi-collector ICP-MS systems, a Thermo iCAP Q and a Teledyne Photon Machine 193nm Excimer laser ablation system. The instrument employs a high resolution double-focusing mass spectrometer. An electrostatic zoom lens system then focuses the ion beams into an array of static Faraday and ion counters that simultaneously measure isotope (ion beam) intensities for the isotopic system being studied.

The MC-ICP-MS is capable of determining isotope ratios with external precisions on the order of 10-20 ppm which is much more comparable to the precisions obtained by TIMS than those previously achieved by quadrupole ICP-MS or single-collector HR-ICP-MS systems. MC-ICP-MS also has speed as an advantage. Isotope ratio measurements can be performed in just a few minutes per sample as compared to the several hours per sample required for TIMS analysis. In addition, due to the efficiency of the high temperature ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma) ion source, MC-ICP-MS can be used to study both "traditional" (e.g. Sr, Nd, Pb, Hf) and "non-traditional" (e.g. Li, B, Be, Fe, Cu, Zn, Cr, S, Hg, Mo) isotope systems.

Generally, samples are introduced into the MC-ICP-MS in solution or as a solid ablation stream from a laser for in situ analysis (S,Sr and Pb). Aqueous samples are introduced as a dry aerosol using a desolvation nebulizer, or as a vapor using a cold vapor generator.

Scientific Opportunities/Applications: Environmental, biological, and geological applications.


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